The weekend was all about the race and the kids and I didn't realize until I was actually on my run that it was the 31st. Luckily I was already in a reflective frame of mind.
I was thinking how, unabashedly, I shed a manly tear during the pre-race ritual, and how it had been a couple years since that had happened. Why was that? Why didn't it move me last year like it did yesterday?
The word that kept coming into my head, as I tried to compare myself then to myself now, was clarity.
I see myself differently now, and I think more clearly. I'm more honest with myself and more willing to see myself for what I am. And that makes me better able to feel, and think, and perceive the world I live in.
Last year I spent a lot of time chasing things that I thought I wanted. I thought, and worried, and planned, and worked my ass off, for what turned out to be nothing.
If I'd been more honest with myself, if I'd listened to my instincts, if I'd been more in touch with myself, if I'd had the same clarity I have now, I'd have saved a lot of time, and grief, and worry, and energy. Tons of energy.
The thing is, it's so easy to delude ourselves. We can convince ourselves that everything is ok, that things will work out, that this really is what we want. Why? Because sometimes the truth is too painful to admit, even to ourselves. It's easier to live the illusion, to kid ourselves, than to face the hard, cold truth.
The irony is that the truth wins out... sooner or later. And the longer you wait, the harder it is to face.
Still, over time we build up layer after layer of insulation between our true self and the outside world. Some people live nearly all of their adult lives pretending to be someone they aren't, more comfortable with their alter ego than the real person inside. And unfortunately, some people spend so much time pretending to be someone else that they lose touch with who they really are. And a small few are so afraid of facing their true self that they retreat from anyone and anything that gets too close.
I took the dog on the run. It was long-ish. And hot. And sunny. And humid. The dog, who usually insists on staying half a step ahead of me, was lagging behind the last couple of miles. I started to worry that the heat was getting to her. Then she saw another dog up ahead and miraculously found all kids of energy to dash ahead in an attempt to attack the dog, or to sniff its butt. Not sure which. Point is, she was fine, just not on the same plan as me.
I spent most of those last 2 miles tugging on her, encouraging her to keep up. She'd play along, pick up the pace a bit, only to drop back as far as the leash would let her. She was slowing me down, and wearing me out, since I was running a little twisted to the left, dragging a furry, slobbery anchor. When we hit our street, I tried one last time to spur her on. Not happening.
I dropped the leash.
I finished the last 1/10th of a mile alone. She made it to the yard eventually, plopping down in a sunny spot.
There are (at least) two types of people in this world. There are those who seek, even crave, clarity and truth and all that comes with it, and there are those who choose to live a life safe from the naked truth, inside a cocoon.
These two types don't mix. Those looking for clarity are frustrated by those who aren't. Those who choose to bury their true selves are uncomfortable with those who keep trying to get to that same true person they are hiding.
If you're a cocooner, you may not even know it. But if you do, and you want to shed that cocoon, there's nothing like regular vigorous exercise to tear away that sucker. A good run, alone, in the hot, or cold, or wind, or rain, will bring you face to face with yourself, give you a chance to get reacquainted. It's a lot cheaper than therapy, and if you stick with it, you'll be healthy and live longer. More time to enjoy a life unfiltered.
If you're a truth-seeker, hang with other truth-seekers. Don't waste the energy or time or worry trying to get them to open up or to understand. They'll just slow you down and wear you out.
Sooner or later, you gotta drop the leash.
Numbers: 7.0 miles mostly on roads, but a little trail mixed in.